A few weeks ago my man Dan and I traveled south-east about 350 miles to attend my high school reunion. It was my 40th – yep, do the math I’ve been out of high school a long time. It was a successful and enjoyable evening albeit, too short.
There isn’t much going on in the town where I grew up and attended school. There are a few beautiful old houses, a lovely museum, a fabulous, restored botanical garden called Shangri La, chemical plants, and some nice people. The best part of growing up in Orange, Texas to me, was that it sits on the water and the gulf coast is close by. It is also the border town between Texas and Louisiana. Situated right on the Sabine river which divides the two states. It is easy, if you’re from that part of Texas to consider yourself Texan with a little coon ass thrown in. Pardon my french!
Taking this little known fact into consideration, you will understand why I love spicy, Cajun, food so much. Oh! and if there is seafood in the mix, all the better. We found time to hit a great Cajun seafood place for dinner before heading over to the country club for my reunion. We filled up on gulf shrimp, bar-b-q crab, fresh red snapper, crawfish and all the trimmings. To me there is not a better shrimp, than one caught in the gulf of Mexico. There is a flavor unique to these shrimp and having grown up eating this particular kind of shrimp, well, it’s just my favorite.
The day after the reunion we headed to Pt. Arthur to visit Nicks Grocery and Market. We can buy boudain and Cajun sausage from places like Central Market or Whole Foods but it’s hard to beat Nick’s. He’s been in business for as long as I can remember and he makes all that Cajun food fresh in his store. No trip to that part of Texas would be complete without a stop by Nick’s to fill up a cooler with green onion sausage, crawfish boudain, pork boudian, stuffed, seasoned Cajun pork chops, and some cajun sausage.
You’ll find Nick’s tucked away in a residential area. Kids ride up on their bikes to buy sodas and candy bars, grown men on motorcycles park out front and fill a small cooler strapped to the rear seat of their bikes, women in their sunday best bring home Sunday supper, and travelers from afar leave with a smile.
The shopping experience at Nick’s is entertaining. Cajun food is known for its spiciness and heat. Wandering around, perusing the shelves proved that shoppers at Nick’s are looking for hot and spicy. Not only is the meat counter filled with hot and spicy goods but the shelves are stocked with hot sauces, dips, and marinades. The main label I noticed was Cajun Power. No matter if you’re cooking sloppy joes, chili, baked beans or making dip you can buy a jar of sauce and cook with Cajun Power! If all you need is a little hot sauce on the side there is a jar of Louisiana Lightening Strike Hot Sauce. We got a kick out of reading the labels but passed on buying any sauces. Our buggy was filled with items from the meat counter.
Our order was wrapped and labeled by a guy complete with a Cajun accent. Even listening to his dialect made me smile. We filled our basket with all the good stuff and headed to the check out. I couldn’t help but notice the well used stamp lying on the counter, “Hot Boudain”. Is there any other kind?
Friday night we threw a roll of the green onion sausage on the grill as an appetizer. We polished it off in no time with cold beers and outdoor fans blowing on high. The green onion bits give the sausage not only a delicious flavor but visual interest as well. The sausage is spicy, tender and meaty. Healthy?, you ask, probably not, but an occasional guilty pleasure is acceptable in my kitchen.
If you’ve never tried boudain; pronounced “boo-dan” (shorten the “n” sound just a tad), go to your local speciality meat market, or if you’re lucky enough to have one, Cajun market and give it a try. We love it with omelets, as a side dish with crawfish pie ( a recipe I will post when the weather is cooler), or as an appetizer. Both boudain and Cajun sausage make a delicious meal with a side salad and loaf of crusty bread. So go on, seek and ye shall find…just be sure to keep a cold brew close at hand.